As of 2016, there were approximately 325,000 Bloomberg Terminal users. And while it is the most commonly used financial data software tool, it is also the most expensive at more than $20,000 per year, per seat. In fact, the Bloomberg Terminal happens to be the company’s biggest moneymaker, generating 80 percent of its revenues in 2013.
Many companies have come to view the ubiquitous Bloomberg Terminal as a necessary evil in their financial tools’ arsenal. Financial professionals continue to rely on the platform based on the breadth of information it delivers, but in reality, most users take advantage of only a fraction of the Bloomberg Terminal’s more than 30,000 functions.
Bloomberg delivers financial data, news, messaging and analytics, and can also facilitate live trades. Still, it is not the most user-friendly or engaging financial data software tool for the bulk of functions that financial analysts perform day to day, and has been dubbed as powerful but “clunky” by some in the financial industry.
Although the terminal no longer requires an on-site hardware installation and is instead offered as software called Bloomberg Professional, it still looks and functions much like it did when it was created in 1982. Screens are still dense with text, much of it in tabular form, with charts mixed in where appropriate. The default screen still features amber characters and a black background.
Physical appearances aside, it’s the lack of user-friendly, intuitive features and functionality that may be taking a toll on your team’s efficiency. The software is strictly Windows-based, and although Bloomberg also offers users access to the application online and through mobile devices via its Bloomberg Anywhere service, the end result is still data that is compiled only into Microsoft Excel. This means your team is poring over spreadsheets rather than visualizing data in the most efficient manner.
A more efficient, cost-effective method of financial analysis
The good news for financial professionals is that there are more efficient, clear, and engaging methods of financial communication that also deliver data in real time. Your entire team can benefit from a platform that fits within your budget and allows you to communicate insights among your peers.
If your Bloomberg Terminal isn’t contributing to the efficiency of your company’s financial team, here are some of the features you should be looking for in an alternative:
1. Discovery taxonomies. Bloomberg relies on legacy taxonomies for its datasets, which limits what data is available. Flexible and scalable technology will allow you and your team to utilize any data point of interest. As newer data sources become available, a modern platform can incorporate the data quite easily, and most of the time without the need to increase the subscription cost.
2. The ability to capture quantitative data. The financial data platform you’re using should allow you to capture quantitative data not currently scrapped by a legacy system that are typically "buried" in the MD&A, earnings releases, corporate social responsibility disclosures and the SEC comment letters.
3. The ability to create a storyboard. If you’re tired of combing through Excel spreadsheets, which by nature are not engaging or visually appealing, your team can benefit from financial data that combines qualitative and quantitative data with insightful narratives to tell the story behind the data.
4. A platform that allows you to easily cite your data sources. If your team is spending a lot of time verifying the sources of the financial data, this is a major area where your business can gain efficiencies. The platform you’re using to obtain financial data should make it easy to see the original sources from which data points are pulled. It should also be easy for you and your team to determine which data tags were used and exactly how value formulas were computed.
5. A platform that enables text analytics. In order for your team to be efficient, they should be able to easily search the footnotes in 10-K and 10-Q reports, as well as earnings releases, MD&A, risk factors, proxy statements, and SEC comment letters.
6. A user-friendly interface to visualize data. Bloomberg’s charting abilities are limited. But when your team has an efficient and effective visualization platform, it is easier to spot outliers and interesting trends in financial data.
If your Bloomberg Terminal is limiting your company, it’s time to start thinking outside of the box. If you’re interested in a dynamic platform that can make your entire team more collaborative and efficient, we can help.